THE Transportation department said it is seeking Chinese bidders for the rolling stock package of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Bicol project.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) is working on four more contract packages of the PNR Bicol line, also known as the South Long Haul Project. The first contract for the design and construction of a 380-kilometer railway from Banlic in Calamba, Laguna to Daraga, Albay was signed on Jan. 17.

“’Yung Package 5 po para sa rolling stock ay nakapag-request na tayo ng shortlist na manggagaling sa China at hinihintay na lang natin ’yan (We have requested a shortlist from China for Package 5, which is for the rolling stock, and we are waiting for a reply),” Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John R. Batan said during a virtual briefing on Thursday.

The department is also preparing to bid out the other remaining contract packages.

Ito namang packages 2, 3 and 4 natin ay kasalukuyan pong ongoing ’yung design works at preparation ng bidding documents ng ating project management consultant (The project consultant is doing the design work for packages 2, 3 and 4),” Mr. Batan said, referring to China Railway Design Corp.

Ang procurement ng (packages) 2, 3, 4 and 5 ay (hopefully) maumpisahan by the end of this year (We hope to start procuring those packages by the end of this year),” he added.

According to the DoTr, projects funded by China’s official development assistance, or ODA, go through six stages before they are implemented.

First, the DoTr will request the Department of Finance (DoF) to obtain a shortlist of qualified contractors from China. The DoF will then request the Chinese government to provide the shortlist.

Once the shortlist is provided, the DoTr, through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management, will initiate the procurement.

After procurement, the DoTr will sign a contract with the winning bidder, followed by a notice to the DoF to apply for a loan from China to finance the signed contract.

The P142-billion design-build contract was awarded to the Joint Venture of China Railway Group Ltd., China Railway No. 3 Engineering Group Co., Ltd., and China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co., Ltd.

The DoTr said the first 380 kilometers of the PNR Bicol project will span 39 cities and municipalities, four provinces, and two regions. It will feature 23 stations, 230 bridges, 10 passenger tunnels, and a 70-hectare depot in San Pablo, Laguna.

The entire PNR Bicol project consists of a 560-kilometer long-haul rail line connecting Metro Manila to provinces in Southern Luzon.

“Once fully operational, it will cut travel time between Metro Manila and Bicol from the current 12 hours by road to as little as four hours,” the DoTr said.

“Passenger trains will run at a speed of up to 160 kilometers per hour, while freight trains will run at a speed of up to 100 kilometers per hour,” it added. — Arjay L. Balinbin